POLITICS

Jo Cox Tributes: White And Red Rose Placed On MP's Empty Seat In House Of Commons

Colleagues end with spontaneous round of applause after emotional session

20/06/2016 16:43 | Updated 20 June 2016
PA/PA Wire

A white and a red rose was placed on Jo Cox's empty seat in the House of Commons as MPs paid an emotional and tearful tribute to their late colleague.

The simple gesture - white for her home county of Yorkshire and Labour red - was one of many striking moments of an hour-long special session of Parliament.

After close friends and MPs from rival parties shared stories and hailed a politician who had a remarkable impact during a short life, MPs broke in to a round of applause as they departed the chamber - with some turning to her husband and children in the public gallery.

Parliament was recalled specifically today so MPs could speak about their memories of the 41-year-old. MPs all wore the white rose and many wiped away tears.

Matt Dunham/AP
Floral tributes for Jo Cox placed on Parliament Square outside the House of Parliament

 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the MP for Batley and Spen had “spent her life serving and campaigning for other people”.

“We have lost one of our own and our society has lost one of our very best,” he said.

“The horrific act that took her from us was an attack on democracy and our whole country has been shocked and saddened by it.”

“Jo Cox didn’t just believe in loving her neighbour, she believed in loving her neighbour’s neighbour. She saw a a world of neighbors. She believed every life counted equally.” 

 

Tearful Labour MP Rachel Reeves, a friend of 20 years, told the chamber how a new MP will be elected but “no one can replace a mother”.

She movingly recounted how her colleague fought against “hatred, intolerance and injustice”, and that it "now falls on all of our shoulders to carry on Jo’s work". 

Jonathan Reynolds recounted how his fellow Labour MP sought to reassure his wife, Claire, when she was breastfeeding at a Labour conference event.

Mr Reynolds said: “It was at Labour Party conference about five years ago that my wife was breastfeeding my daughter at a fringe event and feeling self-conscious about it – some older comrades still not at ease with that sort of thing.

“Jo saw that and she sat down next to Claire and began to feed her own son just to show solidarity with Claire and to make her feel better. It’s just an example of how she always thought of others in her every day life.”

Friend Alison McGovern said Mrs Cox's life had “real meaning”, praising her compassion and support for others.

The Labour MP quoted from one of her friend’s own speeches in the Commons to highlight her desire to help people all over the world, including  when she called on the UK government to take in 3,000 unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.

“Who can blame desperate parents for wanting to escape the horror that their families are experiencing?

“Children are being killed on their way to school, one in three children have grown up knowing nothing but fear and war.

"Those children have been exposed to things no child should ever witness, and I know I would risk life and limb to get my two precious babies out of that hellhole,” quoted McGovern.

She added: "Jo Cox’s life had real meaning. She gave love to us all and that can never be lost. We may feel lost today but inside us all the love is still there.”

Labour's Stephen Doughty, who worked with Mrs Cox at Oxfam before they were MPs, told stories about his "kind, caring, passionate, principled" friend.

He said:

"We’re told the flowers of Yorkshire are like the women of Yorkshire, every stage of their growth has it’s own beauty but the last stage is always the most glorious.

"And it was glorious, Jo. To be honest, I was always a bit envious of her. She was energetic, she was brave, she was dynamic, she was fit, she was beautiful, she was passionate.

"I can’t ever recall seeing her sad, negative or without hope. She once told me in a one-to-one meeting in Oxfam that she didn’t do touchy feely, because I was being too emotional and we needed to get on with it.

"We needed to sort out the campaign we were working on, she believed in building bridges, she was fiercely Labour to the core but when she thought our party was on the way out of government, she knew there were bigger things at stake."

Introducing the tributes, Commons speaker John Bercow described Mrs Cox as “caring, eloquent, principled and wise”.

“Above all she was filled with and fuelled by love for humanity. Devoted to her family and a relentless campaigner for a equally human right and social justice.”

He added: “Jo was murdered in the course of her duty, serving constituents in need. She fought for them. Just as she fought for others at home and abroad who were victims of poverty, discrimination or injustice.

“An attack like this strikes not only at an individual but at our freedom. That is why we assembly here both to honor Jo and to redouble our dedication to democracy.”

David Cameron spoke of the sadness the country felt at the killing of the "loving, determined, passionate and progressive politician".

He said: "We are here today to remember an extraordinary colleague and friend. Jo Cox was a voice of compassion whose irrepressible spirit and boundless energy lit up the lives of all who knew her, and saved the lives of many she never, ever met.

"Today we grieve her loss, and we hold in our hearts and prayers her husband Brendan, her parents and sister, and her two children who are just three and five years-old.

"We express our anger at the sickening and despicable attack that killed her as she did her job serving her constituents on the streets of Birstall.

"Let me join the leader of the Opposition in his moving words in praising Bernard Kenny and all those who tried to save her.

"But above all in this House we pay tribute to a loving, determined, passionate and progressive politician, who epitomised the best of humanity and who proved so often the power of politics to make our world a better place."

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